Vardy scores first in WAGs libel trial

Coleen Rooney (left) and Rebekah Vardy have been embroiled in a trial dubbed the "WAGatha Christie" case.
Coleen Rooney (left) and Rebekah Vardy have been embroiled in a trial dubbed the "WAGatha Christie" case.

LONDON • Rebekah Vardy, the wife of Leicester striker Jamie, won the first exchange in her libel case against the wife of his former international teammate Wayne Rooney over accusations she passed on stories to a newspaper about her former friend.

Vardy is suing Coleen Rooney at London's High Court for accusing her on Twitter and Instagram of leaking stories from her private life to The Sun. Both women belong to a glamorous group of footballers' wives and girlfriends, known in Britain as the WAGs.

In October last year, Rooney, whose husband is England's record goalscorer and former captain, said she had carefully planned and executed a sting operation to see who was leaking stories about her, and that her detective work had worked out who was responsible. The end of the message said: "I have saved and screenshotted all the original stories which clearly show just one person has viewed them. It's... Rebekah Vardy's account."

But Vardy, 38, denied the accusation. "I don't need the money, what would I gain from selling stories on you?" the model replied.

The libel trial kicked off on Thursday with both parties arguing about the "natural and ordinary" meaning of the words at the centre of the dispute.

Vardy's lawyers said they should be taken to mean Vardy herself had consistently betrayed Rooney's trust over several years. Rooney's lawyers argued reference to "Rebekah Vardy's account", stopped short of asserting Vardy's unequivocal guilt.

Judge Mark Warby, in his judgment, said: "The reader's natural inference would be that the miscreant was Ms Vardy herself. There is no indication to the contrary." He also ordered Rooney to pay Vardy just under £23,000 (S$41,000) in costs for Thursday's hearing.

The core of Rooney's defence, that her post was justified because its content was true, will be examined during a full trial at a later date.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2020, with the headline 'Vardy scores first in WAGs libel trial'. Print Edition | Subscribe